By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Boxing Beat
Former WBC bantam champ Hozumi Hasegawa (29-3, 12 KOs), 125.75, acquired the vacant WBC featherweight belt as he jumped up two divisions and defeated previously unbeaten WBC top-ranked Mexican Juan Carlos Burgos (25-1, 18 KOs), 125.75, by a unanimous decision (117-110 twice and 116-111) over twelve hard-fought rounds on Friday in Nagoya, Japan,
Hasegawa sometimes overcame tough moments and remained aggressive, steadily piling up points to show his superiority in ring experience and counterpunching. Burgos, however, finely displayed his talents, heart and gameness against the Japanese hero who thus conquered a couple of championships. Hasegawa will be obliged to face Mexican ex-champ Jhonny Gonzalez in his initial defense due to the WBC’s order at the convention.
It was really a crowd-pleasing see-saw affair that entertained the crowd on its feet. For Hasegawa, 29, it wasn’t an easy triumph at all as shown by the official tallies since Burgos, 22, was much better and more dangerous opponent than we had expected. Though Burgos fought a southpaw rival for the first time in his professional career, he fought as if he had exchanged gloves with lefty opponents on more than ten occasions. He knew how to cope with southpaw opposition.
Hasegawa, a southpaw speedster having kept his WBC bantam belt ten times to his credit, was in command in at least three out of the first four rounds. He connected with southpaw right hooks following solid straight lefts, and turned very aggressive in the fourth to convincingly take the initiative in the fourth.
The open scoring system then showed that Hasegawa was leading on points: 39-37 twice and 40-36, all for the ex-bantam champ.
The seventh saw Burgos suddenly turn loose and bounced the champ’s face off with a looping left uppercut to the chin that had him staggering in the middle of the squared circle. Hasegawa desperately fought back hard with his back to the ropes, but it was obviously a round for Burgos, two inches taller and more hard-punching than the ex-bantam champ. The audience as well as Hasegawa’s corner then realized the Mexican youngster’s strength and power-punching for the first time of this contest. The Japanese was really on the brink of a possible defeat then and there.
In round eight Hasegawa displayed another part of his technical ability in averting his rival’s punches with his busy footwork and flexible body movement. Then, a cut on Hasegawa’s right eyebrow opened with an accidental butt, so Burgos was penalized a point because of the WBC’s eye-cut rule.
The tallies after the eighth were announced: 78-73 twice and 77-74, all for Hasegawa’s favor. But we didn’t take Hasegawa’s victory for granted because Burgos was still dangerous enough to cause an upset in the last four sessions.
What Hasegawa should do at that point was simple enough. He intended to keep a strategy of maintaining his lead on points in the last four sessions. But Burgos refused to yield the initiative to Hasegawa and tried to fight back and bring the belt to Mexico.
The last four rounds became more furious and fierce than earlier sessions, since they exchanged all they had without showing any fatigue. We saw the Mexican’s right optic swollen badly because of his repeated absorption of Hasegawa’s straight lefts. We had to admit that Hasegawa, in the last two sessions, was overpowered by Burgos, whose punches were unfortunately least accurate due to Hasegawa’s excellent footwork and elusive mobility.
Hasegawa showed his best in order to earn the second WBC throne, following his previous coronation in the bantam category thanks to his speed and skills. Tonight Hasegawa desperately withstood Burgos’ sickle-like long left uppercut to the button and maintained his lead on points until the end.
“I’m happy to dedicate this WBC belt to my mother that pitifully passed away about some two months ago. It wasn’t my best performance, but the God might render this victory thanks to my dedication.”
It was a furious war. Hasegawa endured the power-punching of Burgos and finally seized his second world championship. We cannot predict what tough future will await him as a 126-pounder, but we celebrate his second coronation from our bottom of heart.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions in association with Shinsei Promotions.